Sunday, January 30, 2011

Blog #41 - where do ideas come from? Inception

I wanted to do this blog so that it connects our old learning from the empiricism / rationalism unit with the new stuff on romanticism and individualism, with the movie, Inception being the bridge between the two units. 

John Locke wrote about where ideas come from in his Essay Concerning Human Understanding.  Being a big proponent of the tabula rasa concept, he felt that nothing existed in our mind that didn't come from either our senses or our experience.  We could trace all of it back to its original source and we would find one of those two origins.  

However, reason tells us that the ideas we come up with can sometimes be the product of pure inspiration, an epiphany that can seem like it came "out of the blue" and into our mind.  Most likely, all of us have had some kind of experience with these moments of wonder and "a-ha!" and they can drive us to distraction or do wonderful things. 

The movie, Inception, works like this kind of idea.  In fact, the movie itself works like Cobb, the main character, implanting an idea in our own minds that we can't seem to shake.  It's not our idea, but it's a very compelling concept.  Here's one of my favorite quotes from the movie:

"What is the most resilient parasite? Bacteria? A virus? An intestinal worm? An idea. Resilient... highly contagious. Once an idea has taken hold of the brain it's almost impossible to eradicate. An idea that is fully formed - fully understood - that sticks; right in there somewhere."

"Arthur: Okay, this is me, planting an idea in your mind. I say: don't think about elephants. What are you thinking about?
Saito: Elephants?
Arthur: Right, but it's not your idea. The dreamer can always remember the genesis of the idea. True inspiration is impossible to fake."

1. Have you ever been inspired by a movie, book, TV show, piece of music or speech or other work of art?  If so, what happened and tell us what it moved you to do. 

2. Why do you think ideas are so powerful?  Are they more powerful than images?  Why or why not? 

Due Tuesday, February 1.  250 words total. 

Here's an awesome article about Inception from Wired Magazine in their section, the Frontal Cortex:  Beware, spoilers abound, so be careful.  From Impose, guesses at the meanings behind thecharacters' names. 

Cinema Blend's alternative take on Inception:


  1. The very first time I ever watched Inception, I was actually quite inspired by it. Throughout the entire movie, I was trying to connect different scenes, and many other things of that sort. Then, for about a week after, I tried to analyze my own dreams, and thought what if lie is actually a dream? Inception made me really think about how can you perceive reality, or is reality all a dream? The idea of a dream is dumfounding in itself, but what is more powerful, a dream or an idea? Well, in my opinion, a dream basically is an idea, summed up into series of events when you sleep. So, ideas are definitely the most powerful. Ideas are so powerful because they allow you to imagine and dream. If I were to have the idea of myself playing one on one basketball with stars like Kevin Durant, I can only imagine or dream how that would be, possible outcomes of the game, and more. Also, when people meet for meetings in work, an idea is thrown out, and those people who hear the idea can only imagine or dream how it would impact what is going on. After imagining or dreaming of that idea, the only way it can become a reality is from the different individual’s imaginations or dreams. The idea of ideas only becomes reality after dreaming of it. In my opinion, an idea is more powerful than an image. The reason that is, is because an image is straight forward, and can usually be interpreted one way. For an idea, it can be interpreted many different ways because of the individual’s imagination or dream of that idea. Only ideas can be so complex and powerful.

    Jake Stein
    3rd Hour

  2. I don't really think I've ever been inspired by a book or a movie/t.v. show. I am however inspired by music every-time I listen to it. Everything about music is awesome to me, and it's not even a specific type of music. Any genre and style inspires me. I wish I played the guitar so that I could make something entirely original like the musicians I listen to. Music is extremely therapeutic for me and every-time I listen to it I can't help but think that if just listening to it can make me feel so happy imagine how much better I would feel if I could make it myself. I have a guitar and I can't really play it at all, but I wish I could. I pick it up every now and again and hope that the music will come flowing out of my fingers, but that hasn't happened yet.
    I think ideas are so powerful because in an idea anything can happen. With ideas nothing is holding you back from imaging the craziest things that might not even be possible, but since you can think it up there is the smallest possibility it might not be so crazy after all. I do think that ideas are more powerful than images because when you're looking at something...something like a unicorn you know its not real because you didn't think it up. I'm not saying that when you think of something impossible it automatically becomes reality but that if its in your head it hasn't yet been proven wrong. And if it stays in your head than you can expand on that idea and make it even more complex but as soon as you try to capture that idea in a picture it never lives up to expectation or reaches the full potential. Once the idea is in an image it's almost set in stone and you can't really change it, but if it's in your mind than you can continue to change it. Because the image will never live up to the original idea I don't think images can be as impacting as ideas.
    Jaimmie Koss
    3rd Hour

  3. 1) Though nothing has ever truly inspired me to do anything, and I have never had a catharsis, I have had various T.V. shows and movies inspire me to some degree. For example, I always new that I wanted to be a doctor because of the fact that the human body is extremely interesting in terms of how it works, and because I like to help people. But, when I was younger I used to love to watch medical shows like House and Scrubs (even though thats more comedy than medical). Watching these shows reinforced my desire to become a doctor, as I how medicine can help a person (however rare or strange the disease the writers made up).
    2) Ideas are so powerful because, as Cobb says in the quote above, once the mind has had the idea implanted, the idea will eat away at the brain until the brain has to succumb to the idea. For example, if a person riding in a car has to use the restroom, not too badly, and they alert those around them that they need to make a pitstop. But in the meantime, those riding with them will try to aggravate the person by saying things like "flowing water" and "Niagara Falls". Slowly the idea of going to the bathroom will become stronger in the person's mind. Even though they didn't need it too badly, by the time they reach the restroom they will feel like they are about to explode. Ideas are also more powerful than the images that make our world. This is because an image has room left for interpretation. Say two people are looking at a picture of one of Obama's campaign ads from 2008. To one person that ad could mean a new beginning for America and a prosperous future. To the other person, this ad represents the beginning of the end. An idea on the other hand is more concrete in what it means. Locke's natural rights can only be interpreted in one way: everyone has the right to live; everyone has the right to be free; and everybody has the right to own property. There is no alternative view for this. Either you believe in it or you don't.

  4. 1) Many things in life always inspire me. Driving in my car, a bad relationship, a sunny day, or what I had for lunch; I get inspired to make my own story. My best inspiration was when I went to College for Creative Studies for four weeks to improve my artistic abilities. One of the projects I had to work on was an advertising campaign about a(n) awareness, product, or service. I chose to create an awareness campaign and was then given a ceramic child’s shoe. At first I was very confused on how I was going to make a campaign from a shoe, but then I started thinking about the books I was reading at the time. They were about children in Afghanistan that were struggling in the wars and their poverty troubles. Then I thought about the children in Northern Sudan that were being abducted to become child soldiers as young as nine years old. I decided to make my campaign for the children and to spread awareness to others.
    Once I was done, I had to present to the CCS advertising directors and they said that it was one of the best they’ve seen from a high school student and my friends and family loved it. I was just glad that they understood what was going on in the world.

  5. I have never been inspired by a single piece of art, but they have all affected me. All of the movies that I watch, the shows that I watch, and the books that I read plant ideas into my head. They have in a way shaped what kind of person I am today. There was one book, I do not remember what it was about, but a person had a choice to make. There was a disease that threatened to wipe out massive amounts of people. This person could a) turn in an immune person to a scientist, probably creating a cure but sacrificing that immune man’s life, or b) turn in a small amount of information on the disease to the scientist, and save the man’s life. The person in the book chose to go with choice b, because they could not bring themselves to go with the phrase “for the greater good”. Now, whenever I see this choice in another piece of work, I always consider that book. I have never been in that sort of situation in real life before, but I know that I would take that book into account if I ever was.
    In my opinion, ideas are so powerful because everyone has them. Therefore, when a person presents an idea to someone else, the other person can identify with that and will understand it better. The second person might come up with another idea, and the two ideas will build. I definitely think that ideas are more influential than images. A single image can resonate with one person, but that might be it. An idea can be shared by all.

    Tyler Porritt

  6. The movie Inception is truly inspiring because it has sparked my interest into distinguishing what is reality and what is a dream. There is a fine line between reality and dreaming. The idea when we sleep we pass on to another world maybe strange but very captivating. When we are sleeping our mind is still very active until we fall into deep sleep. There is a state of sleep when we are completely unaware of dream world but our mind is active and creative although we are unaware of it on physical level. For example, once I dreamed that I took a test in school all the details were fresh in my mind, when I woke up I really did think I was at school and took a test. I have discovered in my dreams that I am fearful, anxious, nervous etc. even when I come out of the dream state feelings did not disappear right away. This shows that we cannot separate the dream world from our reality. There is something of the dream world that we carry into our reality. Some ideas take hold of our mind as engraving in stone; some ideas are hard to shake off. I defiantly think that ideas are more powerful than images. Although images can be used to implant an idea, like Pavlov’s dog experiment when he used the bell to implant the idea of food to the dog. As soon as the sound of the bell went off the dog would expect food. Image can be used to condition or implant an idea.
    mariam sharaf
    hour 3

  7. I feel like lots of things inspire everyone every day without them realizing it. I can be inspired by something random a person says behind me in class for a story to write. I can be inspired by a random chord played on the piano by some dude I have never met before to write a song. I can be inspired by a silly little kid in the hall smiling in the park with a balloon, whatever! But, I might not realize that inspired the thought at all. Though, there are times when I am perfectly aware of what inspired me, in these cases I find these are usually images and words combined. When I listen to a speech, let’s say something by TedTalks, I get sparks for what I should write for creative writing or what would be fun to do for my friends next photo shoot. Then, when I tell my friends, we should do a shoot where we dress as the opposite sexes in awkward social situations, I’ll be able to say I got the idea from the Ted Talk on gays, lesbians, and transgenders and how we they feel. I feel most motivated by music, though. When I come out of a theatre after seeing a really awesome musical I feel incredibly motivated to change the world, to explore, and to learn everything possible. Of course if it’s a music tragedy, like Les Miserables for example, I still come out with a wonder for humanity, as well as a pain and sadness. Even more wonder than when I look at a good piece of art, an image. Music is definitely stills up the most feeling in me rather than images. But Images and words cause the most inspiration for ideas, new projects or ways to get things done.

    Natalie Douma
    3rd hour

  8. There have been times when I have been inspired by movies, shows, books, all of the above. Many times when I get inspired I turned to art as my way of releasing my newfound inspiration into the world. Sometimes I’ll be flipping through a magazine and see an advertisement that catches my eye. I’ll either draw or paint what I see just the way it is, or create my own rendition of it. A specific example would be when I was in 4th grade and my mom sat me down to watch Supersize me. From that point on I was so disgusted by what I had seen, I have never stepped foot into a fast food establishment since. It was an awakening; I was forever inspired never to eat that food again.
    Ideas are probably the most powerful thing that one will ever come across. Ideas are what make the world function. Without ideas we’d still be stuck in the stone ages. They can form in someone head, as the idea matures and is voiced to others, it seems to spread very quickly. An idea can change the world. For instance, the holocaust. Hitler had this sick idea that Jews were the reason for the economic crisis. He shared his idea and people clung to it. Ideas can destroy people or, on a happy note, bring people together. Like everything else in this world, there's an upside and a downside; either way, an idea is powerful. They are, in my opinion, more powerful than images. Ideas come off stronger with less misinterpretation than images do.

    Natalie Hords
    3rd hour

  9. This past summer, I was inspired by a website called It’s a blog and it points out the natural highs in everyday life. For example, awesome thing #324 is laughing at a stranger with another stranger. The writer has a quirky style and a dry sense of humor that I’ve come to admire. Upon discovering the blog and hours of pondering, I decided to start my own blog as well.
    I believe ideas are powerful because they can’t be taken away from you. Someone can steal your idea or it cannot be acted upon; but ideas cannot be removed from your mind. Ideas and images are both powerful, but I don’t believe one to be stronger than the other. Ideas and images can both be distorted, forgotten, or can be perceived differently. For example, the idea of a free college education is fantastic. However, when put into perspective, it’s quite the opposite; basically, valuable tax dollars will support kids skipping class, partying, and wasting time (not every student does this, but those who do bite the hand that feeds them). The same concept applies to images: if something normally unnoticeable is pointed out, the perspective changes. For example, I bought a tee shirt from my workplace the other day. I was psyched to find my size, but then I noticed a small stain. Immediately the shirt was different in my mind: not as perfect as it was before I noticed the small spot. Ideas and images are similar in that way, but in my opinion one cannot be considered superior to the other.

    Gretchen Geist

  10. I think that the whole concept of an idea is very interesting. A majority of the time we get our inspiration from someone else’s ideas and not our own. We may be able to expand on their idea but it wasn’t original. I think that I have been inspired by watching house, yea I know. I have always wanted to help people by becoming a nurse. House does this in his own way but by him becoming a doctor. Even though he has a rude manor and can be rash I think he is actually considerate when it comes to what the patients are going through. He always uses logic and his best ability to help them. I want to be able to help people but also use my best logic and ability to be able to help them.

    I think that ideas are so powerful because once we have one our mind will expand it and make it our own. We will always think of it because no one else has the exact same idea as you. I think that they are more powerful then an image, because once an image is taken it remains constant and unchangeable. When you think of something you can mold it and change it into something else. You can really create anything you want with one simple idea, rather then a picture where, once its drawn or taken, to change it you would need to create it again. Ideas are the base of everything that we do so that is why they are so powerful.

  11. I think that ideas are so powerful because ideas can be anything. They can be anything from the idea of a cartoon character, to a fictional story, to ideas on ways to cure diseases. Everything starts with an idea. Airplanes once didn’t exist, but Leonardo DaVinci had ideas on devices that could allow men to fly. Ideas are so powerful because anyone can come up with them. Anyone from your average high school kid to a nuclear physicist to kids in villages in Africa can have an idea. Ideas are everything and anything. And again, everything starts with an idea, no matter what it is (I think). Ideas are much more powerful than images. With an image, there are so many restrictions. Of course you can draw practically anything and nowadays use programs to design any type of image you wish. You can even alter images to create new things and new scenarios that may not have happened. (Faking images…like in 24 and other spy movies.) But some ideas can’t be drawn. As I said before, ideas can be anything. You can’t draw concepts; you can’t draw “ideas” (for lack of a better term) for new energy sources or ways to fix the things in this world. Ideas go so much farther than an image because ideas come naturally to us.
    Alex Grigorian

  12. Throughout my life many types of art, music, books, and powerful speeches have inspired me. Although, It was in the year 2005 when I was truly moved by a movie. The very first time I viewed the movie "Blood Diamond" with Leonardo Dicaprio, I was quite inspired by it. The movie was bases around the distressing conflict of diamonds. In Sierra Leone (West Africa) there is practically a civil war for the cultivation of diamonds. Weeks started to pass and I began to think on how I could those people who lost family members to disputes over diamonds. I initially asked my parents to never buy diamonds that were from any part of Africa (which they agreed on); additionally, I searched online to find a site that sent money to families that were affected by this conflict. My parents gave me about 50 dollars to donate to this organization, and then I started to ask people throughout my neighborhood, which equated for another 50 dollars. This act of kindness was something that I actually took the initiative to do; as a result, it made me feel good that I was attempting to help those heartbroken families.
    In my opinion, I believe ideas are way more powerful than anything else. Ideas are concepts you perceive from viewing, reading, and comprehending some informative information. On the other hand, images are concepts that can only be viewed. In that case, you can perceive the image differently from another person (negatively or positively). Images were definitely one of the many issues in the Arizona assignation attempt. The assassin got most of his most prominent ideas for Sarah Palin’s website, which advocated to eliminate certain districts/ people who managed those districts. A sane person would see that website as that’s what Sarah Palin needs to perused to win that district, but a mentally unstable person would take that literally, and eliminate that person. So in conclusion, I believe ideas are more powerful because it practically eliminates misconceptions.

  13. 1) I don’t think that I have ever been truly inspired by a movie or any work of art for that matter, however, Inception did have a somewhat profound effect on me the first time I watched it. It forced me to question my own reality because what we perceive as real could actually all be a dream and what we perceive as a dream could be reality. After watching inception I began to pay more attention to my dreams and I noticed several of the same concepts as discussed in the movie. For example, I could never remember the beginning of my dreams, I would always start right in the middle.
    2) Ideas are so powerful because they are still developing. They still need to take shape and are therefore constantly evolving. This makes them powerful because each idea has almost limitless possibilities whereas an image is already a concrete object and therefore cannot evolve. Also a single idea can blossom into several different each more complex than the next. An idea, therefore, is infinitely more powerful than a single image because while a single image can be very important, it could never contain all of the complexities and possibilities that a good idea has. Although, ideas do almost always lead to concrete objects, I would take a budding idea over a simple image any day.

    Andrew Gordner
    3rd hour

  14. I think ideas are so powerful, because like it was stated in the movie by Cobb, ideas are the most resilient parasite. Once you get an idea into your head there is no real way of ever getting it out. The more you try to think less about it, the more you are actually thinking about it. In a way that’s why people are driven by their ideas and goals, because they can’t stop thinking about them until they get them done. Ideas are so powerful because they make you do what you do, ideas can be really simple like getting a topic for you college essay or they can be really complex like creating a new piece of technology. Or they can stack on top of each other in the way John Locke believed. I think ideas are more powerful than images, because ideas will always stick with you since you created them and stored them in your memory. Images will eventually fade in your mind because they weren’t initially created by you. Images can be connected to your ideas and memories and in that way implanted in your mind, but a standalone image without any real significance will fade when there isn’t any relevance connected to it. Why would your mind create space for something that isn’t really relevant when you need to store ideas and memories in its place? In the end ideas are so powerful, because they inspire you to do things and progress through life.

    Austin Slawinski
    3rd Hour

  15. The Matrix is a movie that had compelled me to think outside my typical thought process. It made me think about whether I could prove that I wasn’t inside a device or trick such as the matrix. As I pondered this, I came to the conclusion that I couldn’t prove that this was the ‘real world’ but if it is what I’m living, who is to say it isn’t my reality. When we dream, we don’t realize that we are dreaming and take our dream as reality. Only when we are out of that reality, out of that dream, do we say it isn’t our reality. Ideas are so powerful because there is no way to eradicate one by sheer will. To get rid of an idea, one must have great proof, evidence, or reason against it, and sometimes that isn’t even enough. Also, I believe our ideas, or thoughts depend on who we are. We have different thoughts because we are different people with different experiences and styles of life. This means a though t or idea isn’t just something that popped into your head, it’s also a part of who you are. As far as images, I feel that they are just an expression of an idea portrayed in a way to influence others ideas. So I believe images are very powerful, but the fact that they came from an idea makes them less powerful than an idea. For example, if I wanted to promote fair treatment of pandas, I could make a poster to hopefully get other people to have the same thoughts as me. In essence, im using images to convey my ideas and thoughts to others.

    Andrew Sadler

  16. Alice Turner

    1. I dont think I've evenr been particulary inspired by a movie or book beacuse none of them have really had much of a new or big idea that really made me wanna act on something. I think some ar though can make you wanna ct on something. I have seen photogrophy about hunger and homelessness and has really inspired me to want to do something about it or try and change something. I think the imagery of one instant in time tells so much about the way things are.
    2. I think ideas are powerful, becaus eas Cobb siad, theyre viral. They cathc on so quickly and can turn to actions. Your actions and choices define your charcater, so in rrelaity you rideas define your character. I don't think however, that they're more powerful than pictures. An idea is s abstract and a picture is a concrete oexmaple of something real. It's always possible for an idea to fail to become anything more than just a random blurb.

  17. Dustin OAkwood
    1. I recently saw Katy Perry's Firework music video. I didnt really enjoy the song too much,although it is kinda catchy. What inspired me most5 about the video were the different examples and different situations that were prtrayed ibn it. the main theme was accepting yourself/loving yourslef and accepting it and just going out and breaking the silence. being who you are to the very best. There was an obese girl wwho took her clothes off and swam at a party, that takes guts (being a big guy and all) there was a kid who stood up tio his father that was abusing his mother. Anywho, the main point was standing up for yourself and being the best you can be. be a firework. What this movie did for me was to stop living my life for grades and to start living my life for happiness. This blog isnt going to matter twenty years from now, but happiness is.

  18. Jon "the big boss" PaganFebruary 1, 2011 at 11:12 AM

    I have been inspired by people before, the media and music. I have always wanted to have my own clothing line, and all of the above gives me ideas to create designs ect… Taz Arnold is a designer that wants to portray math, science and knowledge in his designs. I found this unique take on designing and want to spin off of that. In a bigger picture I believe many ideas may come from those before us. Many students talk about going to a certain college because their parents or older sibling went there.

    I don’t want to say there aren’t any new ideas. However I do feel that there are large sum are previous ideas that we take and mold into our own. Kind of how Hume and Locke proposed we only have basic thoughts then build on them for more complex ones. This concept can be applied to almost any idea you come up with. Way back to sliced bread the idea of bread existed. The idea of having a slice or slicing something was also an idea. Then someone decided to combine the two existing ideas to make sliced bread. This is the perfect example of taking two simple thoughts and combining them for a more complex.

    Whenever I take ideas from previous a thing that’s when I have the most drive to do something. Maybe since I know the two three or however many ideas I combine are already true, I have a better end result.

  19. The Wackness inspired me to seek out the dopeness in life, and to stop dwelling on the wackness. "The Wackness", is easly the most influential movie I have ever seen. At it's root it had all the same themes of your classic coming of age movies. Loss of virginity, graduating, finding yourself, defeating your inner enemies. But this movie portrayed those themes in such an off color light and I was truly able to connect with this movie. The movie showed how everything moves so fast around us in life, people always trying to ahead. It showed me that you have to look at the dopeness of life and not the wackness. The months since watching this movie my life has been more fulfilling, slower, easier, calmer. It brought a sense of insight into the world, something that was so obvious. The movie also gave me a more liberal thinking towards life. A quote by Dr. Squires, "It used to be you could lick a sheet of acid, hold up a band, _____ a whore in Times Square without anyone batting an eyelash. Now, one blunt, we're in the clink. This whole city's _____ed! ". A statement like that made me look at America, and how we're to conservative to such miniscule natural wonders of the human race. A quote by Luke Shapiro was very influential in my thinking "In June I graduate. And then I go to my safety school. And then I get a little older. And then I die.". I connected to this very well, and it made so much sense. And its not so much carpe diem. But it's more like, yea, everyone follows the same basic path, what are you going to do different? So that helped me change my values. To finalize... A famous quote by Dante Hicks from "Clerks".. " high school was about, algebra, bad lunch, and infidelity". Essentially.
    An idea is something very powerful. An idea can change the world. An idea can change a life. An idea can destroy the world. An idea can destroy a life. An idea is incredible, it can manifest itself into the universe. The idea of the universe. An idea is endless, infinite. It's only limited by the unlimited. so yea. ideas are a good time.

    By Evn Frd.


    and jake stein.


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